A new author was born behind prison walls and on Friday, the launching of Caged Chronicles cemented Francisco “Chino” Eiley’s arrival to the literary word in Belize. At El Fogon restaurant, Chino’s family and friends rejoiced at the release of a memoir of thirty four poems written while imprisoned at Hattieville Prison for a crime he was unjustly accused of. While completing his lifetime imprisonment charge, Chino found he had lots of time to spare, and he took to the pen and began writing his thoughts, his feelings and his emotions. Little did Chino know that those whispers in the dark would carve a new path which would take him in a whole new direction, one he never envisioned traversing.
Caged Chronicles speaks of unheard pleas, unexpressed emotions, unjust feelings and a desire for freedom. For the past years, Chino’s pen was his only consolation for an unfair life cast upon him. His first poem Life Goes On is a chronicle of life behind prison walls. While life still continued outside, ever changing, behind those walls, everything remained the same. Behind those very same walls Chino was affected by violence, when he saw his best friend in prison shot point blank to the head. His friend’s death made Chino realize that life could be taken away so easily and, having spent years locked up, he wanted his family to have something to remember him by. The poems, steeped in emotion and pain, were delivered home for the family. To Susana Eiley, mother, the poems were a part of her son and she cherished every single one of them. “They were my son’s emotions and feelings. Sometimes it would take me a month to read a single poem. I would read paragraph by paragraph, racked by emotion, I would continue slowly. They were filled with emotions and I used to cry while I read one of the paragraphs. At times I would wake up before dawn broke and would read some more. It was very emotional,” Mrs. Eiley commented. The poems were a way of dealing with the pain, anger and rage felt behind the guarded walls. It was also a way for Chino to deal with his fear.
Mrs. Eiley was so filled with pride at her son’s talent that she would share the poems with all those that would frequent their family business, El Fogon. Chino’s father Norman and sister Olive, saw the potential in the poems. They realized that those cries of anguished pain should be shared with the world and so the publishing process began. “I never could have imagined that the book would be released before my release from prison. I always maintained my innocence and I knew that the time would come for me to be free. Little I know that I would be able to attend my own book launching,” he commented.
Chino’s love for poetry has grown and continues to grow with each passing day. Other book works are in progress. Upon completion and publishing of Part of the Caribbean, the public will learn about the origins of the Garifuna in Belize. To be released later this year, Chino follows the life of the first Garifuna on the Belizean shores. A poetry album is also in the works, whereby Chino’s poems will come to life and will be accompanied with music. The audio recording will be released in the next couple of months.
“The support I have received from everyone is overwhelming and very much appreciated,” stated Chino. “My time spent behind bars made me realize the importance of life and as such, I encourage the youth of Belize to study, read a book, make your life better. Only you can do it and believe me, it feels good.”
Caged Chronicles can be purchased at El Fogon restaurant and select gift shops on the island.
Chino was released after years in jail for the murder of Justo “Galento” Perez.